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EWG’s News Roundup (12/1): Chemicals in Cribs, Investigating the EPA and More

In the News
Friday, December 1, 2017

This week, EWG conducted an eye-opening interview with Dr. Brandon Boor, a professor and mattress expert at Purdue University. We talked about crib mattresses and the toxic chemicals that can be tucked inside them. You can read the interview in two parts.

For more information on mattresses for people of all ages, check out EWG’s Healthy Living: Home Guide.

We also took a look at a couple studies this week that showcase how environmental toxins in everyday products affect children’s health. The first, by the International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health found that phaseouts of Teflon chemicals have prevented thousands of underweight child births. The second, from researchers at the University of California, BerkeleyColumbia University, and the University of Michigan shows that hormone-disrupting chemicals – from sources ranging from food packaging to car exhaust – have links to childhood obesity.

EWG highlighted the fact that the only public hearing on the President Trump’s proposed repeal of the Clean Power Plan, a policy in place to curb carbon pollution, was being staged in Charleston, W.Va. – the heart of coal country. The plan was put in place to reduce smoke stack pollution from coal-fired plants, which is linked to a litany of health effects. At the time of implementation, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated it would bring “health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030, including avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children.”

Finally, in keeping a watchful eye on the Trump administration, EWG, along with our colleagues at the government watchdog organization American Oversight, filed Freedom of Information Act requests to find out exactly what chemical industry ally Michael Dourson has been doing in his new job at the EPA. Administrator Scott Pruitt hired Dourson as a senior advisor prior to both his confirmation hearing and a vote by the full Senate.

“Letting Dourson anywhere near the levers of power at EPA responsible for protecting the public from toxic chemicals is akin to turning over the American Lung Association to a tobacco executive,” said Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs at EWG. “If he’s now doing the bidding for chemical companies inside EPA, the American people and the Senate deserve to know.”

For coverage on these developments and more, here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Clean Power Plan Repeal

Utility Dive: Clean Power Plan Hearing is Trump’s Latest Desperate Act to Save Dying Coal Industry

“Repealing the CPP won’t reverse the inevitable demise of coal,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Coal’s fate has been sealed by simple economics with the explosion of cheaper and renewable energy. But blocking the plan will cause more asthma attacks in children, and more heart attacks and premature deaths among adults. It’s clear evidence that the president and the administrator don’t care about protecting public health, but instead preserving polluters’ profits.”

EPA and Michael Dourson

Winston-Salem Journal: Our view: Our senators stand up

Scott Faber, a senior vice president for government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, had this to say to the AP: “No one who has spent decades arguing on behalf of the chemical industry for weaker safety standards should be charged with reviewing chemicals for the EPA.”

Politico Morning Energy: Greens Demand Dourson Docs

American Oversight and the Environmental Working Group are beginning a joint investigation this morning in to EPA chemicals office nominee Michael Dourson’s early work at the agency prior to his Senate confirmation. They’re sending out six FOIA requests seeking copies of his communication with senior political staff; ethics and recusal documentation; calendar and telephone logs; records of political appointees discussions about Dourson; contacts with outside groups like Koch Industries and DuPont; and interactions with anyone helping Dourson on his confirmation.

Washington Examiner: Daily on Energy: EPA goes on offense for chemical safety pick

The Environmental Working Group and American Oversight filed a freedom of information request on Thursday for the Energy Department to release communications between the Trump administration and energy industry officials over Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear plants.

EWG’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning

The Cheat Sheet: Cancer From Chemicals? These Household Products Are Known Carcinogens

Products that are keeping your house clean can also contain carcinogenic substances. The Environmental Working Group has a Cleaners Hall of Shame list with the worst offenders. In the Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning, they found nearly three-quarters of the 2,500 cleaning products listed contain ingredients that can harm respiratory health, and over one-quarter contain carcinogenic ingredients. 

Live Naturally Magazine: Clothes Call

If you’re still not sure whether a product is safe, check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Guide to Healthy Cleaning at ewg.org, which identifies potentially dangerous ingredients, helps you decode labels and rates top products. You can also look for the EPA Safer Choice label on products and buy organic, which will ensure the absence of many hazardous chemicals—and ultimately a “greener” cleaner.

Cosmetics

Long Island Technology News: Seen at 11: Cosmetic Contamination

Melanie Benesh is an attorney with the Environmental Working Group. The nonprofit organization publishes a Cosmetic Database exposing potential health hazards for more than seventy thousand products. “We have been looking for a long time at the regulatory system related to cosmetics and it really is the wild wild west,” Benesh Says, “while there’s a lot of regulation on the books for food and drugs, there is very little in the way of cosmetics.”

EcoSalon: Yes! Natural Beauty Brands are Everywhere (But These are the 10 You Need Now)

Also, the company has four independent certifications (Ecocert for the Cosmos Organic Standard, Leaping Bunny, The Certified Vegan Trademark, and EWG Verified) that demonstrate the brand’s desire to sell products that “do good” and “are good”.

Skin Deep®

Latin Times: Would You Stop Using Deodorant? This Crystal Stone Has The Power To Protect You From Odor, Sweat

With this deodorant you don’t have to worry about cancer, mutation, birth defects or other harms, because besides being endorsed by numerous breast cancer and oncology treatment centers across the U.S., also, in ingredient safety assessments conducted by the Environmental Working Group, Crystal ranked as the safest deodorant on the market.

Prevention: 20 Gorgeous (Nontoxic!) Natural Beauty Products And Sets To Gift This Year

When overhauling your beauty routine, you can check products on the EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics database or on the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics, as well as look for certified organic products and ones with natural, sulfate- and parabens-free ingredients. 

Goop: Megan Tries It: Self-Care – for Teeth

David’s botanically infused, ultra-pure, toothpaste detoxifies and fights bacteria without fluoride—which the EWG classifies as hazardous—or sulfates, which are known irritants that can dry out the mouth and cause bad breath. Calcium carbonate—a clean mineral—helps remove plaque and stains; antibacterial peppermint, spearmint and other essential oils freshen breath; and baking soda polishes teeth so they appear brighter.

Conservation Practices

The Gazette: Water quality deals lacks allure in swath of Iowa

Only 2.6 percent of Iowa’s total corn and soybean acres had cover crops in 2015-2016, according to a first-of-its-kind study by Practical Farmers and the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group that used satellite images to detect cover crops in the fields over the winter.

The Gazette: New Iowa crop insurance discount for cover crops

But only about 2.6 percent of Iowa’s total corn and soybean acres had cover crops in 2015-16, according to a study by Practical Farmers and the Washington, D.C.-based Environmental Working Group. Reprinted by Insurance News Net.

2018 Farm Bill

The Country Today: Thatcher: Next farm bill all about the money

Thatcher said there are lots of environmental groups such as the Environmental Working Group and the Heritage Foundation that are actively lobbying against farm program expenditures.

Reason: Current Farm Bill Waste Targeted as Congress Moves Toward Next Farm Bill

Along similar lines, a report issued Tuesday by the Environmental Working Group, which monitors and criticizes farm subsidies, exposes how two other Farm Bill-enabled programs waste billions more. The EWG report, "Double Dipping: How Taxpayers Subsidize Farmers Twice for Crop Losses," focuses on two Farm Bill programs, known as Agricultural Risk Coverage (ARC) and Price Loss Coverage (PLC). Farmers who receive taxpayer-subsidized crop insurance may still choose to participate in either ARC or PLC, even though "all three programs essentially pay subsidies for exactly the same reasons." Reprinted by Before It’s News  and Press Release Point.

EWG’s Farm Subsidy Database

Washington Examiner: Ben Carson wrong about effectiveness of housing tax credits

The Environmental Working Group recently published the most recent update to its Farm Subsidy Database, which serves as a useful guide to illustrate who is and who is not benefiting from the current system. It confirms the trend seen over decades of aggregated data on farming subsidies: The most successful agribusinesses receiving the largest portion of federal farm subsidies.

Glyphosate

Genetic Literacy Project: What foods have pesticide residues? When do the chemical traces pose dangers?

The Washington, DC-based lobbying organization known as the Environmental Working Group (EWG) highlighted a published report concerning glyphosate use, which concluded the following…

Texarkana Gazette: California cracks down on weed killer as lawsuits abound

California is the first state in the U.S. to “take regulatory action to protect out residents from this chemical,” said Olga Naidenko, senior science adviser for the Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit research and advocacy organization.

EWG’s Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change

Star Tribune: No November Snow – Mild Temps Continue

Food and meat production are carbon intensive activities according to the Environmental Working Group report, The Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health.

Bloomberg BNA: The Humble Turkey Becomes an Environment, Global Trade Player

And turkey’s emissions are ahead of those from chicken, according to an Environmental Working Group analysis.

Forbes: Six Weather-Climate Related Thanksgiving Facts and Musings

Food and meat production are carbon intensive activities according to the Environmental Working Group report, The Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health. The graphic below illustrates that lamb and beef production account for the most significant carbon footprints. Reprinted by Cetus News.

EWG’s Food Scores

Indy Star: How to avoid cooking chemicals into Thanksgiving dinner

But when you're in a pinch and reaching for those packaged goods, that's when all bets are off, according to Dawn Undurraga, a nutritionist at the Environmental Working Group. "You can totally have a healthy Thanksgiving," said Underraga, who helped EWG develop a "food score" tool to help consumers make healthier choices.

Mercury in Seafood

Fast Company: The Mercury-Safe Tuna Company Is On A Mission To Clean Up The Oceans

The FDA states that a mercury concentration of over 1 part per million is a cause for concern; Safe Catch’s health standard of .1 ppm, which they arrived at through consulting with experts at the Environmental Working Group and Harvard School of Public Health, is 10 times stricter.

Fragrance in Consumer Products

Mother Jones: What the Heck is “Fragrance?” Thanks to California, Companies Now Have to Tell Us.

“We see this as a first step towards safer formulation,” says Samara Geller, an analyst at Environmental Working Group, which co-sponsors the bill. Knowing what’s in a product, she says, is necessary to “evaluate the exposures, evaluate the ways these chemicals are getting into our bodies, and evaluate how they’re impacting the environment.”

Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce™

Reader’s Digest: 11 Smart Ways to Eat Healthy on a Super Tight Budget

 "Follow the Environmental Working Group's Dirty Dozen list, and buy only those foods organic," says Murthy. "Also, if you're into local farmers' markets, chat up the actual farmer about their methods: Many farms are organic, even if they can't legally claim it—it's expensive to become certified organic."

Food Tank: Dr. Robert Graham Trades His White Lab Coat for Chef’s Whites

I choose local over organic, but organic when you can. People should look to the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists by the Environmental Working Group.

Mercola: EPA Refuses to Ban Neurotoxic Pesticide Found in 87 Percent of Newborns

Next, familiarize yourself with average pesticide loads and buy (or grow) organic varieties of produce known to carry the highest amounts of pesticides. You can find a quick rundown in the Consumer Reports video above. Another excellent source, which is updated annually, is the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) shopper's guide to pesticides in produce. Reprinted by Health Nut News and The Science of Eating.

Care 2: Can You Actually Wash Pesticides Off Produce?

Got a tight wallet? The Environmental Working Group has your back. Always shop with the Dirty Dozen in mind. These 12 foods are generally the most highly contaminated with pesticides, meaning they are the 12 foods you should always buy organic. The Clean 15 on the other hand, generally have the lowest pesticide residue. If you’re on a budget and can’t afford the whole gamut of organic produce (or simply think organic avocados taste like dirt), these 15 are your safest bet to buy conventional.

EWG’s Tap Water Database

Insider Monkey Blog: 15 Cities with the Cleanest Tap Water in the US in 2017

Then we have checked info provided by ARCADIS from their Sustainable Cities Water Index, where we have gone through the water quality index. After we have gone through the cities proposed on these resources, we have double checked information using the EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) Water Database.

Rodale’s Organic Life: This Genius Gadget Lets You Safely Drink From A River

People have long known that their tap water was contaminated—most just didn’t know to what extent. After the Environmental Working Group released a comprehensive database outlining the contaminants in drinking water across America just a couple weeks ago, everyone can now see what, exactly, plagues their own tap water.

Chromium-6 in Drinking Water

What’s Life: 75 Percent of American’s Water Contains A Toxic Chemical That Erin Brockovich Fought Against 25 Years Ago

 In a report released by the Environmental Working Group, it has been detailed that chromium-6 (hexavalent chromium, a highly toxic chemical, is in 75 percent of the municipal water that Americans are drinking – and at levels which are 500 times those known to cause a health hazard.

Nonstick Chemicals in Drinking Water

The Fayetteville Observer: How did GenX get in this Cumberland County lake?

The situation is complex, said David Andrews, senior scientist at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group. “It’s not just GenX that’s contaminating the area. It’s a chemical soup,” Andrews said. “I think we need to be addressing the exposure and contamination of the whole class of chemicals. The only way to control exposure is to look at the whole class.”

New Jersey Spotlight: New Jersey Scientists Urge State to Curb Another Chemical in Drinking Water

“The proposed drinking-water standard for PFOS in New Jersey would set the most health protective standard in the country for exposure to this toxic chemical,” said Dr. David Andrews, senior scientist with the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for tighter controls on PFCs and other contaminants.

M Live: PFAS record may sink Trump EPA chemical safety nominee

"His approach has not typically been for the benefit of public health," said David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, an advocacy organization that focuses on chemicals in consumer products. "Every place where there's a decision to be made in terms of how to utilize the scientific data, he's always shifted or bended the rules toward protection of higher contamination levels."

Water Online: Are PFCs A Bigger Problem Than We Thought?

Instances of PFC contamination are in the news so often that it may come as a shock to learn that to date, the issue has actually been underreported. But that is the thrust of a report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) this month.

 

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